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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Donagh Corby

Jake Paul’s rise from Disney star and YouTube fighter to leading boxing promoter

When Jake Paul was first called out for a boxing match by British YouTuber KSI, he had minimal interest in the sport.

The American YouTube sensation was one of the most famous social media stars in the world in early 2018 when the Brit took to the mic after his TKO win over Joe Weller to declare war on both he and his brother Logan. But the younger Paul was more interested in MMA, declaring that any fight between the pair would only be "real" if it happened in the cage.

Growing up a fan of Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen in the UFC, the Pauls had toyed with fighting in the past. Logan was a highly-ranked high school wrestler, while Jake also competed at an impressive level. In 2017, the younger brother took on AJ Agazarm in a sparring session inside the cage, saying that a bucket list item had always been to fight a UFC-calibre athlete.

Boxing wasn't the sport of choice in the Paul household.

Ultimately, KSI's jeers and the promise of millions in pay-per-view revenue were enough to entice both Logan and Jake over to Manchester for a set of white-collar boxing matches. Logan would face KSI, the elder of the e-celebrity Olatunji brothers, while Jake was to face Deji.

Jake Paul was making millions as a Disney Channel star while Amanda Serrano was earning peanuts fighting in Puerto Rico (Getty Images)

Amid a tour across America and a series of brand endorsements that commanded a lot of the brothers' time, the younger Paul teamed up with the veteran boxing coach Milton Lacroix. Between gigs with his YouTube group Team 10, he and brother Logan would train with Lacroix, and spar with the likes of 6-0 professional Niko Valdes.

It was during this experience that the Pauls fell in love with boxing. Just a year after he had been fired from his role on the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark, Jake had found a new passion in the sweet science.

He beat Deji comfortably over five rounds, with the Brit's corner throwing in the towel in the fifth after a bruising beatdown. But his brother wasn't so lucky, and when six rounds couldn't separate the older siblings, they opted to turn professional for their Los Angeles rematch.

It was during the build-up to KSI vs Logan Paul 2 that Jake met Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn. After a massively successful night of business for broadcasters DAZN and Sky Sports, Hearn rushed to get Jake in the ring, putting him against YouTuber AnEsonGib in January 2020.

The pandemic cost Hearn another massive night at the box office in Jake vs KSI, and the pair wouldn't reunite for another two years, at which point Paul had begun promoting himself, and had signed seven-weight world champion Amanda Serrano to his Most Valuable Promotions stable.

Serrano had long been viewed as the second greatest pound-for-pound fighter in women's boxing, with Katie Taylor leading the way at No.1. But there wasn't an appetite to make the fight as a headliner in any major arenas, and the pair were going to have to take significantly less than male champions to fight on the undercard of Dillian Whyte vs Alexander Povetkin.

That was until Jake, who had met Amanda when she fought on the same card as he and Gib, took her under his wing last summer. When Paul was starting to train, Serrano was struggling to get on the televised portion of PBC's Deontay Wilder vs Bermane Stiverne 2 card.

He elevated the Puerto Rican to co-main event on his two fights with Tyron Woodley, and alongside manager Nakisa Bidarian they inked a seven-figure deal for Taylor vs Serrano to headline at Madison Square Garden.

"I like Jake," Hearn says of Paul. "We promoted his pro debut, we don't want to do YouTube any more and he's kind of moved away from YouTube boxing now. I see him now as something different to that.

"He's a fighter. I don't think he's going to go on and win championships but he's a fighter in his own right and people will tune in to watch him and he's been great to work with on this show."

Paul has amassed a 5-0 professional record of his own, but he decided to push back his planned ring return to August of this year in order to focus on pushing Serrano to the forefront of the boxing world.

"She would tell me all sorts of stories about the absurd amounts of money she was being offered," Paul. explains "It just didn't make any sense, they were trying to finagle the deal and make it all crazy with all these weird things in the contract. We had to come in and fix all of that and get her a seven-figure payday."

For the most part, his plan has worked. A relentless social media campaign has brought Serrano to global stardom, almost on the level of Taylor after years as a media darling for her role in promoting the sport at amateur and then professional.

Do you believe that Jake Paul is good for boxing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Paul and Serrano are now set to make history in New York (Michelle Farsi for Matchroom/MSG Photos)

And he believes that as a promoter, he will only continue to grow parallel to his success in the ring. Most Valuable Promotions have signed Ashton Sylve, and will play a part in YouTube star Alex Wassabi's next foray into the boxing world after winning his debut.

As for what's next, Paul is eyeing up a bout with Mike Tyson for himself, and a major money trilogy with Taylor for Serrano. Unfortunately for the duo as friends, but very fortunately from a business standpoint; Bidarian and Paul's pet project has meant that now he and Serrano are both main event stars, and likely won't be sharing the card any time soon.

"It's true," he says of her newfound star power. "I don't know what we're going to do about that, let's see what ends up happening. it's good for her because she should be the main event. She deserves that so I'm proud of her and this is a big stepping stone for her.

"I'm focused on tonight but afterwards we're looking just at more big fights and increasing the superstardom, moving up weight classes maybe and taking on Claressa Shields is what my vision is for her. But obviously she's got a tough opponent in Katie Taylor, so we just hope she gets a massive W in a beautiful way."

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